Pandora has been my go-to for music since 2007. I loved it the second my friend told me that it was customized radio stations. I get great joy from listening to music, but the amount of time I’m willing to invest in finding new artists is non-existent. There’s just no drive there and I simply don’t do it. When Pandora starts up, I see my handful of stations, and probably have one already picked out. Each station has a specific vibe and has been tailored to different activities. If I’m writing code or browsing, “Cryogenic Dreams” radio is on. Mellow electronica with very few voices. In the car or making jewelry, I generally go for one of my three or four hits-type stations. They range from new hits back to my favorites from high school. Now really, on to why I’m writing this article… Pianobar.

Pianobar is a wonderful player for Pandora that lives in a terminal window. It is so simple and easy to use, and most importantly it’s always there. The terminal emulator I love to use is called Guake, and it drops down from the top of my screen with one keystroke. This makes it much faster than switching to another browser tab. For Windows users, Pandora’s Desktop app is decent, but it lacks the glorious keyboard controls of Pianobar! A single tap to change or pause the music and right back to action. Hitting thumbs up or down on a song is done with the + and – keys, and play/pause is ‘p’ or the spacebar. Much more than just the basics are available in Pianobar. It has functionality for shelving a song, adding variety to your stations, bookmarking, and pretty much any other action you could want. It’ll even call up the last five songs played so actions can be performed on them.

I’ve really grown to love using this program, and I have it installed on my desktop and laptop. Both are running Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail. Pianobar is in the ‘raring’ repository, but as of this writing, it hasn’t been updated to the latest release. I started getting an error when the program started up a few days ago, but installing the latest version of Pianobar from source fixed it.

First I’d try installing the release version and see if the repo has been updated. Do that with

Start it up and you’re good to go!

Now hopefully it all goes smoothly and you’re listening to your favorite stations. If not, you’ll have to install the latest version from source. If you haven’t done this before (as I hadn’t), it may seem daunting. It’s actually really simple if you’re used to installing through apt-get and using the terminal.

Download the binary through Pianobar’s main site. Unpack it with something like the following, just change it to match the file name of your downloaded file.

Now install the packages required to build the program.

Make sure your’re currently in the unpacked Pianobar folder, and then run the following and you’re set.

I hope you enjoy listening to some awesome music from the cool comfort of your command line. Let me know what your favorite station is or leave a link to it in the comments!